Country girl still banking on law
By Xie Fang (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-14 07:16
When Liu Hongyu chose to work in a quiet, rural branch of the People's Bank of China in Sichuan after graduating from university, her colleagues told her she was wasting her talent.
That was in 1985, when Liu was a recent law graduate and China's reform and opening up was still in its infancy.
Workmates told the bright, diminutive youngster she should be helping change the world in a courtroom, not wasting her days counting money and calculating figures.
Liu listened politely, but she had no intention of wasting her life. She was already working on a plan of her own.
"Even back then, I knew that sooner of later Chinese banks would become part of the market economy," Liu, 45, said.
Now the senior partner at law firm Jincheng & Tongda, in 2003, Liu became the first lawyer from Beijing to be elected to the 12th local people's congress.
This year, she took her place as a member of the national committee of the CPPCC.
"Significant changes have taken place in the Chinese financial system over the past two decades," she said.
"For instance, in the 1980s, it was rare for a bank to get involved in any form of legal proceeding.
Nowadays, they have learned how to safeguard their rights and do so according to the law."
One of her proposals to this year's CPPCC suggests the introduction of legislation to protect investors' interests and rights.
The Chinese stock market still has problems with insider trading, the fabrication of financial reports and manipulating stock prices, she said.
"So we need to give investors confidence the market is fair and healthy."
In her career as a lawyer, Liu has provided legal services to many top banking executives, but she remains modest about her achievements.
Liu grew up in Fengjie, Chongqing.
Surrounded by hills, she longed to join the big wide world, and especially Beijing.
"But the only link I had was listening to radio shows from Beijing," she said.
She knew the only way to get ahead was through education, so in 1981, she enrolled to study law at the Southwest University of Politics and Law.
After her graduation, she decided to focus on finance and began her career in banking.
After several years in the Sichuan branch, she moved to Beijing to join the Agricultural Bank of China, where she again asked to work at a grassroots branch.
Over the following years, she worked at outlets in 21 different districts and counties across the city.
"The hard work helped me develop my self-confidence," she said.
She also developed an eye for opportunity.
In 1992, after witnessing the first changes to the national attorney's system in Beijing, she quit her job and set up the capital's first law partnership, Tongda Law Firm, which now employs 300 lawyers across the country.
These days, Liu could probably sit back and enjoy the fruits of her success. But she said that is not her style.
"I love my job. I don't just do it for the money," she said.
"The career I have chosen is a lifelong passion."
(China Daily 03/14/2008 page6)